fauxphilnews

Possibly True. Necessarily Entertaining.

Kripke resigns as report alleges he faked results of thought experiments

with 42 comments

“Did I tamper with the results? It’s possible.” Uttered by anyone else, this would be a damaging admission.

Saul Kripke resigned yesterday from his position as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center.  While similar allegations have been circulating in unpublished form for years, a team of philosophers from Oxford University has just released a damning report claiming that they were systematically unable to reproduce the results of thought experiments reported by Kripke in his groundbreaking Naming and Necessity.  The team, led by Timothy Williamson, first became suspicious of Naming and Necessity after preliminary results raised questions about related work by Hilary Putnam.  While the group was initially unable to confirm that water is H2O on Twin Earth, the results turned out to be due to contaminated research materials—one of the researchers’ minds had been contaminated by Chomskyan internalist semantics.

The inability to replicate Kripke’s results could not be similarly explained away, however, as the researcher in question was excluded from the analysis of Naming and Necessity.  The report, forthcoming in Philosophical Studies, claims that 74% of the book’s thought-experimental results could not be reproduced using the standard philosophical criteria for inter-researcher agreement.  A second version of the analysis, employing a generous application of the principle of charity, still left 52% of the results unverified.

Some of Kripke’s erroneous results may be due to improper data storage.  When they asked Kripke for full documentation of his thought experiments, Williamson’s group received only an unorganized batch of desultory lecture notes along with an assurance from Kripke that “the real results” are “up top, where it counts.”

Unfortunately, not all of the noted discrepancies can be explained by negligence, says Williamson.  He offers the example of Kripke’s discussion of Elizabeth II.  “How could a person originating from different parents, from a totally different sperm and egg, be this very woman?” Kripke asks.  “It seems to me that anything coming from a different origin would not be this object.” (113)  Williamson responds that we have no choice but to acknowledge that a man as brilliant as Kripke must be aware that the precise genetic makeup of Elizabeth II could in principle have resulted from the fusing of different sperm and egg, as all of the genes of Elizabeth II—or mutations thereof—are floating around elsewhere in the population.  “It simply cannot be true,” Williamson concludes, “that it seems to Kripke, as he claims, that Elizabeth II could not be born of different parents.”

Asked how data fabrication in such a high-profile work could go undetected for so long, Williamson cites the plausibility of Kripke’s results.  “If all you do is think about it, it seems obvious that—for example—even if Schmidt produced the incompleteness theorems, ‘Gödel’ doesn’t refer to Schmidt.  When we actually did the thought experiment, however, the results were surprising.”

Asked whether his team will now turn their sights on other philosophers, Williamson hints that they might adopt a more historical orientation.  “Our—ahem—philosophical troubles aren’t limited to thought experiments,” Williamson says with a wry smile.  “Take Kant’s three formulations of the categorical imperative.  While Kant claims that they’re equivalent, that’s clearly not the case.”  This kind of inconsistency, Williamson claims, “constitutes a red flag.”  At this point, an argument broke out between this reporter and Williamson as to whether inconsistency constitutes a red flag or whether being a red flag supervenes on inconsistency without being constituted by it, and it was clear that the interview was over.

About these ads

42 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. [...] Hilarious. Saul Kripke resigned yesterday from his position as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center. While similar allegations have been circulating in unpublished form for years, a team of philosophers from Oxford University has just released a damning report claiming that they were systematically unable to reproduce the results of thought experiments reported by Kripke in his groundbreaking Naming and Necessity. The team, led by Timothy Williamson, first became suspicious of Naming and Necessity after preliminary results raised questions about related work by Hilary Putnam. Share this:ShareFacebookDiggStumbleUponEmailTwitterRedditPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post.   Leave a Comment [...]

  2. Awesome post. Keep it up!

    Raphael Rosen

    February 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm

  3. You, sir, are genius.
    I thought the APA dissolution piece was serious, if Onion-y. The FDS piece had me going. It wasn’t until I hit this piece that I got it. I literally spit my martini all over the keyboard. (I’m billing you for that, BTW).

    I’m recommending this blog to all my Philosophy friends, including my best friend, who got his BA from Oberlin back before we were born. (Seems you Oberlin sorts get just as pie-eyed about your alma mater as we Reedies.)

    Devon Belcher

    February 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    • Awesome; thanks for your support and encouragement! I really appreciate it!

      Reed was actually my first choice for a while, and I might have gone there if it hadn’t been so close to home and more expensive.

      fauxphilnews

      February 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm

  4. That’s one of the funniest picture captions I have ever read.

    Marc

    February 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm

  5. I. love. this. blog. seriously some of the funniest stuff i’ve read in a long time. keep it up!

    ami palmer

    February 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm

  6. This is fabulous!

    Roger Albin, OC ’77

    Roger Albin

    February 26, 2012 at 7:06 am

  7. lot of reality in satire … philosophically speaking

    ron

    February 26, 2012 at 10:15 am

  8. LOL… Hits “experimental philosophy” where it should!

    Adele Mercier

    February 26, 2012 at 10:50 am

  9. sadly very funny! 8-)

    Luciano Floridi

    February 26, 2012 at 11:29 am

  10. Where is the flattr button?

    philotue

    February 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    • I had no idea what Flattr was until you said that. I don’t know if I’ll be adding that to the site, but of course I am flattered!

      fauxphilnews

      February 26, 2012 at 4:38 pm

  11. this is hilarious!! the more you read it, the funnier it becomes… loved the “If all you do is think about it … When we actually did the thought experiment, however, the results were surprising” :D

    Dan

    February 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

  12. I hit this page from Twitter, this being my first time here.
    Oh my! Where have you been all my life?
    I swear, I was rolling on the floor.
    I’m off to read the other posts.
    Cheers!

    A. Kuffour

    February 27, 2012 at 10:57 pm

  13. Is this a thought experiment about a thought experiment?

    peter

    February 28, 2012 at 4:53 am

  14. Wondrous good.

    The picture caption ["Did I tamper with the results? It's possible." Uttered by anyone else, this would be a damaging admission.]
    That is an nugget of linguistic insight and joke all by itself, to the effect that what Kripke says is meant by “it is possible…” is so at odds with what it would mean in testimony wrt tampering with evidence!

    karolus

    February 28, 2012 at 9:05 am

  15. [...] from fauxphilnews. Skullcap skip:  Marciano Siniscalchi. talk [...]

  16. [...] from fauxphilnews. Skullcap skip:  Marciano [...]

  17. [...] article on Saul Kripke’s resignation:  While similar allegations have been circulating in unpublished form for years, a team of [...]

  18. [...] for fauxphilnews, a hilarious philosophy blog created by Ben Bronner. My favorite entry so far is Saul Kripke’s resignation after faking results of thought experiments. Check it out…  Posted by François G. Dorais on March 18, 2012 [...]

  19. Reblogged this on YBoris.

    yboris

    March 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm

  20. [...] example suggests that philosophers may comment on the work of writers. Unfortunately, philosophers are even less willing than writers to close ranks. But the humanities would not have to continually justify the meager funding it receives if only [...]

  21. [...] Aici Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  22. Gravy train riders having a laugh at the taxpayer’s expense.
    Get a job.
    Start paying taxes like the rest of us.

    DirkH

    April 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

  23. sounds like the emperor has a new set of clothes

    Mary

    June 20, 2012 at 11:12 am

  24. [...] for my post on Kripke faking the results of his thought experiments. The Kripke post can be found here, and you can vote here. The entries are alphabetized by blog title, so look for [...]

  25. I just lost it. This is the funniest thing I have ever read.

    Christina Dietz

    September 7, 2012 at 12:39 am

  26. Although your text is very well done I voted for “On Eating Animals” because it treats an important question!

    sommerblume

    September 7, 2012 at 5:21 am

  27. It took me a while to get it (came here from Twitter, didn’t look at the URL). Brilliant!

    Agos (@aragost)

    September 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm

  28. I don’t know enough philosophy to get this. Anyone want to break it down line by line?!

    John

    September 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm

  29. [...] Saul Kripke resigned yesterday from his position as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center. While similar allegations have been circulating in unpublished form for years…  [...]

  30. Reblogged this on The Insomniac Libertarian.

    brucemajors

    May 8, 2013 at 6:00 am

  31. PHILarious!!!

    Bridge Mediation LLC

    May 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

  32. […] FOR LAUGHS: “Kripke Resigns As Report Alleges He Fakes Results of Thought Experiments”, fauxphilnews, February 22, […]

  33. […] FOR LAUGHS: “Kripke Resigns As Report Alleges He Faked Results of Thought Experiments”, fauxphilnews, February 22, […]

  34. ma che cazzate!

    Alfredo Marini

    May 26, 2013 at 11:31 am

  35. […] the question of plausibility, one is reminded of the parody where Kripke is said to have faked the results of his thought-experiments. Did Chomsky fake his […]

  36. Did Stephen Colbert get a Philosophy Ph.D.? A hilarious challenge to those who treat conceptual analysis and introspection as more reliable than scientific methods. Still, I admit “Rigid Designator” has ominous connotations. So maybe he’s right. ;-) Thanks!

    Michael Donovan Aparicio

    October 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 467 other followers

%d bloggers like this: